Alexia Putellas and Karim Benzema win the 2022 Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas and Karim Benzema won the Ballon d’Or award for the best players in the world on Monday.

Putellas kept her title as the best women’s player in 2022 after scoring 18 goals to lead her team, Barcelona, to another domestic trophy. 

The Catalan team won all 30 league games as well as both domestic cups, but an ACL injury prevented her from playing in the European Championship.

Spain, her national team, lost to the eventual champions, England, in the quarter-finals.

“I’m very happy to be back here,” Putellas said at the ceremony in Paris. 

Putellas beat out fellow forwards Beth Mead of Arsenal and England and Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia for the award.

“Winning last year pushed me to want to be even better. Without my teammates, this wouldn’t have been possible. I want to thank the coaches and technical staff who help me to improve every day,” she said.

The French striker beat Robert Lewandowski, Sadio Mane and Kevin De Bruyne to the top men’s prize.

Benzema had a stellar season with Real Madrid, scoring 44 goals in 46 games in all competitions as he helped guide them to a LaLiga and Champions League double. His 15 goals in the Champions League guided Real to a record-extending 14th title.

“This prize in front of me makes me really proud. When I was small, it was a childhood dream, I never gave up… Anything is possible,” the forward said on stage at the ceremony.

Benzema was not part of the France squad that triumphed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia but, barring an injury, will compete at the tournament in Qatar next month.

After nearly six years out following his involvement in a sex tape scandal — and having been found guilty of conspiring to blackmail his teammate Mathieu Valbuena, which his lawyers pledged to appeal — Benzema was recalled by France coach Didier Deschamps last year ahead of the European Championship and has played regularly since.

“There was a difficult period when I wasn’t in the French team but I never gave up. I’m really proud of my journey here. It wasn’t easy, it was a difficult time for my family as well.”

His 15 goals in the Champions League guided Real to a record-extending 14th title.

Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been given out to men for 66 years. The women’s trophy was created in 2018. Both were cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

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